Friday, September 24, 2010
Every day we check the National Hurricane Center website for new tropical storms and hurricanes, knowing that we'll at least have a few days to prepare the the camps and their residents. With nothing on the radar, this afternoon we were taken by complete surprise when at 3:00 the sun was shining - at 3:05 the sky turned green and wind, rain, thunder and lightening like I have never experienced anywhere before hit. The wind sheered many of the few big trees that are left in Port au Prince, landing on streets, buildings, and tents. Worse yet, it blew tents and new shelters apart like they were made of paper towels. One of the camps in which I work lost 80% of the tents and structures and we have yet to be able to survey two of the other camps. When we saw the new wooden offices in the middle of one camp get sucked up into the wind and land on another tent we had to make staff evacuate. We are now waiting for daylight (it gets dark at 5:30 every day) to be able to assess the situation. The feeling of helplessness is overwhelming. When morning comes we need to send in a few of our Haitian staff to check the reaction of the residents. Who could blame them for being frustrated and even angry that 8 months after the earthquake it appears that nothing is happening? It's such a long, difficult answer that not enough time exists in the day to try to explain to everyone so we just keep trying to move faster, but today proved again just how precious time is and how clearly, we are not moving fast enough.